Thursday, April 03, 2014

D for Gerald Durrell

(1925 - 1995)



Finally, I host a gentleman author and he's certainly one of a kind – a zookeeper author. Meet Gerald Durrell. He was born to an English father and an Irish mother in Jamshedpur, India. His love affair with animals began after a visit to the zoo. He maintains that the first word he could speak out was ‘zoo’. In fact he and his wife, Jacquie, wrote only to collect funds for wildlife conservation. Yet he must have had a special gift considering he was shortlisted for the Nobel prize for Literature in 1961 and '62, despite writing not being his first love.

My family and other animals


After his father passed away the family moved to England and subsequently, when Gerry was about 10, to the Greek Island of Corfu. If you’ve read his book My family and other animals you know his life thereon. 

His family became his subjects. Larry, Leslie, Margo, Gerry himself and their indomitable mother together created one of the funniest books I’ve ever read – the kind that makes you laugh out loud not just while you’re reading it but also later when a scene suddenly springs up in your memory and you cannot stop laughing. The book is the first part of a trilogy that includes Birds, Beasts and Relatives and The Garden of the Gods.

Life with a young animal lover at home is fraught with dangers for his family like finding a bunch of scorpions in a matchbox just as you're about to light up your after dinner smoke or snakes in the bathtub after you've undressed for your bath. Obviously the book has generous doses of Corfu wildlife and you get to go on many a nature walk with Gerry.

His life in his books

Like in the book Gerry was homeschooled by his brother Larry’s friends. In fact many characters of the book were real and remained life-long friends like the Greek doctor and scientist Theodore Stephanides. A number of his other books were also based on his real life experiences like Beasts in my Belfry from the time he worked as a junior keeper in a zoo or A zoo in my Luggage, when he couldn’t find a site for his zoo and had already collected the animals. 

A true conservationist is often broke

.. and so was he. He used up his father’s inheritance to finance his wildlife expedition and continued to go on many more bringing back animals which he sold off to various zoos.

Rather than making a profit, he aimed at animal conservation – collecting not just those animals that would fetch him a good price but those that needed to be saved. As a result he was soon broke. Worse, he was black listed by the London zoo community because of a fallout with the London zoo keeper and couldn’t find work. His writings came to his rescue while he worked at an aquarium.

His own zoo

He wasn’t too happy with the way zoos were managed and decided to start his own. He founded the Jersey Zoological park now called the Durrell Wildlife Park. If you're a Durrell fan you might be interested in this site here that I stumbled upon.
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Tomorrow's author is an easy guess, dear readers. Peek into your early years and if you don't find her there you've had a sad childhood indeed.

This post is part of the April A to Z Challenge, 2014 for the theme AMAZING AUTHORS.



Also linking to the Ultimate Blog Challenge.



58 comments:

  1. Wow...interesting....never heard of him before..may be I did..but forgot...I know who it is..EB....my all time fav...love her

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    1. Some authors just don't become famous.

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  2. Nice:-) - he seemed like a likable and interesting person too ... Good thing writings helped him again when he was broke. Will check out his page. Thanks for sharing:-)

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    1. I find it inspiring to be so passionate about something.

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  3. Interesting! Never heard of him before! I wish to read his work sometime.

    ~S(t)ri
    Participant|AtoZ Challenge 2014
    Smile, it makes (y)our day!

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  4. A little something about EB that you might want to include tomorrow! She was a prolific writer. If you compare the number of books she had written with the short span of time she remained a writer, it is about 10000 words per day! Along with that, she had two daughters and was often in poor health too. Amazing, right!

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  5. Interesting! Thank you for introducing a new author! N I love E!!! :) Can't wait :)

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  6. Very interesting, I had not heard of him before. Will check him out. Thank you

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  7. I have only read extracts of Durrell in school textbooks; have I had an unfulfilled life? But this looks like something I would enjoy even now.Are the books suitable for Gy's age? For her understanding, I mean.

    Tomorrow is Enid Blyton ! Am I right? :)

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    1. Right about EB. Give it a few more years for Gy.

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  8. I am happy to be introduced to this new-to-me author. His work and life sounds so very interesting, and even though I am not really an animal lover, from what you have written about him I have a feeling his books might be about lot more than that. May pick one up and check him out. Thanks Tulika :)

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    1. He's funny Beloo for that alone one can read him.

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  9. Another interesting post, thanks for bringing him into our lives. I would love to read about the zoo in his luggage and other stories.

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  10. My family and other animals was my std 9 literature book. You brought back some memories.

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    1. Mine too.. That's where I started enjoying it. I lost the book and then I spoke about it with so much regret that a dear friend reordered it for my birthday. Such amazing memories the book has for me.

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  11. Wow another author that I didn't know about! I simply love your theme :)

    Random Thoughts Naba

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    1. Thanks Naba. I'm sure you'll recognise the next one.

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  12. Thank you for introducing these amazing authors who otherwise we would have never heard about. And this gentleman looks like a good Samaritan apart from being an amazing author :)

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  13. Thanks, Tulika. You've just added an author to my bookshelf. I have never read Gerald Durrell before and I have just ended up ordering a couple of titles. :) Yaay!

    - Monica

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  14. How come I never read his books... Even after being such a huge animal lover... Thank you for this post :)

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    1. You are? Then his books are for you.

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  15. How cool! The books and the author sound fascinating! ♥

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    1. Thanks Kathy. I'm trying to include all my favourites.

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  16. Very interesting! I bookmarked your link and will get to know Mr. Durrell and his books better.

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    1. Thanks.. I too have a list of books to read after the craziness of April.

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  17. Honestly this one I haven't read. And from the looks of it the man sounds interesting, if not me husband would surely love :-)

    Richa

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    1. Great.. let me know whether you liked him.

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  18. One of Jose's favourites. Some years ago we got a whole set of his books at throwaway prices. :) What an amazing life!
    Bring on EB, I say! ;)

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    1. Truly one of the most interesting biographies ever.. and I can say that with some confidence since I've been reading up on so many authors over the last month.

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  19. EB it has to be tomorrow... havent read durrell..but I so so love his smile ...

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    1. Oh you should read his books. Yes EB tomorrow.

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  20. I had not heard of him OM! But he sure sounds interesting and is awe inspiring!! Thanks for the intro.. :)

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    1. It's a pleasure Priya. There are so many things about these amazing people that I've discovered too.

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  21. I liked that man.... and guess might like his books too...

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  22. Never heard of him....
    Many a times you find prolific writers.....unheard of.

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  23. I *love* Gerald Durrell! My earliest memory of 'My Family and Other Animals' is being in our Biology classes at school when I was 11 and if we had been good children, we were read it as a treat.

    Suddenly, I actually *liked* going to Biology class...

    My blog is GenWestUK

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    1. Lol.. Ros that's such a sweet memory.

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  24. Thanks for the info . Vineesh would love to read his books a total animal lover . Hey pls otherwise also let me know of good books . I am not a reader so I would appreciate if you could recommend me books for vineesh .

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    1. Nisha he's a little young for Gerrald Durrell.. Give him another few years. You don't want him reading the mating rituals of turtles just yet.. :-D.

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  25. Thanks for the info . Vineesh would love to read his books a total animal lover . Hey pls otherwise also let me know of good books . I am not a reader so I would appreciate if you could recommend me books for vineesh .

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  26. I have not read him and in fact came to know about 'My family and other animals' very recently on some blog!

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    1. Now I want to know which blog, Shilpa.. You remember?

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  27. Thank you for introducing a new author. I am now keen to read him.

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  28. I hadn't heard of him before...sounds like a very interesting author...loving the book covers!

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  29. I love them too. I love his wit and the way his love for animals shines through. Lovely books.

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  30. New one for me ! A must try, it seems !!

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  31. Wow! Sounds interesting. Never read his books. Would like to pick up some and read, esp to my daughter.

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